Fast food chains in Makati are everywhere. And so with the opening of Juju Eats, the city welcomes the first full-service salad bar and restaurant with open arms and a sigh of relief. Located along Chino Roces Avenue Extension (formerly Pasong Tamo Extension), the newly opened establishment is fast attracting health buffs, vegetarians, and those who want to take a break from their usual meals oftentimes replete with sodium and grease. Makati is a mecca of dining venues, but a full-service salad bar has been a long time coming, indeed.
Juju Eats is behind Juju Cleanse, an all-liquid detoxification program that nourishes your body while you give it a break from your usual diet of solids. Fresh juices replace your usual meals, so that your body can flush out the junk it has accumulated over the years. The same mindset of “healthy in and junk out” is applied to Juju Eats, where there are more than 5,000 combinations of salads and over 50 fresh toppings and dressings available everyday.
Their salad bar is the cleanest and most colorful I’ve seen, housing an extensive selection of toppings such as mushrooms, cheese and grilled meat, as well as salad bases like Romaine lettuce and pasta. “We’re not strictly vegetarian, but we are into healthy eating,” said David Azanza, president of Feelgood Inc., the company that owns the Juju Cleanse and Juju Eats brands.
The salad bar
So, relax. If you’ve never had salad before, you can ease your way into these ready-made creations. There are two options: get a bowl, which is the traditional way of enjoying salad, or get a wrap, which is a pita sandwich ideal for takeaway.
I get a regular bowl of The Inasal Salad (P185/regular), which piqued my curiosity because it’s a new twist to enjoying inasal (Filipino barbecue). It consists of their house mix greens, pork inasal, green mango, feta cheese, cherry tomato, red onion, hardboiled egg, and Bagoong Balayan dressing—which is fermented anchovy sauce native to Batangas.
The varying flavors of salty and sour from the dressing combined with the smoky taste of the inasal work together beautifully.
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A regular serving is very filling for one person. It may be good to share this with a companion if you’re planning to sample the other items on the menu. The salad doesn’t abstain from red meat, but it is still truly nutritious.
Another interesting way to enjoy salad, especially when you want to just grab and go, is eating it in a pita wrap. I tried the Ay! Caramba wrap (P135) and was pleasantly surprised that the pita bread isn’t overly thick that it will overwhelm the ingredients of my salad.
Preparing the wrap
The Ay! Caramba consists of the house mix greens, grilled chicken, nacho chips, roasted red pepper, pickled jalapeno, red kidney beans, corn, grated cheddar, salsa, and Ay! Caramba dressing. It’s like eating a healthier burrito sans the rice. The pickled jalapeno makes this combination spicy but tolerable.
Ay! Caramba Wrap
For those who want a more personalized salad, Juju Eats encourages that you do-it-yourself.
DIY Salads at Juju Eats
A look at Juju Eats’ website (www.jujueats.com) will give you the nutrition facts of the stuff they serve, down to the calorie content. They’re big on transparency, and making sure that their customers are properly informed on what they’re eating.
Cold-pressed fresh fruit juices and beverages may be enjoyed with the salad for a deliciously healthy meal that is surprisingly very filling, as well.
Try the Lemon Soda (P105/regular), if you want to ease yourself into the whole fresh fruit juice diet first. It’s a fizzy drink, almost like your typical soda, but devoid of an obscene amount of sugar. It definitely tastes healthier, too.
Ginger and Lemon Soda
A personal favorite is the Ginger Soda (P105/regular), which has a strong ginger flavor reminiscent of salabat, albeit fizzy. Drink this if you need a pick-me-upper.
The Pineapple Chia Refresher (P80) might look weird to some unfamiliar with chia seeds—those fuzzy dark brown/black things that are often mistaken as pulp bits of a citrus fruit —but they are definitely 2013’s superfood of choice for the health conscious.
Pineapple Chia Refresher
Chia seeds are very high in fiber, and they are the best source of omega three fats in the market. Fiber + omega 3 fats = reduce the risk of heart disease greatly. Some people add chia seeds to solid food because they don’t really have any distinct flavor, and are, therefore, very easy to introduce to your meals. The chia seeds in the pineapple juice turn gelatinous after some time, making this drink far from boring.
Those on the Juju Cleanse diet can get their fresh juice supply at the restaurant, as well. A bonus: Bayani Brew, a Filipino iced tea brewed from lemongrass and pandan leaves with a hint of calamansi, can also be bought here.
Juju Cleanse Solos
Juju Eats doesn’t only promote their salads and beverages by opening a restaurant, they’re advocating a lifestyle change and they want to make it easier for us. It’s not a total 180-degree turn from your usual eating habits, but rather, a compromise you can ease into day after day. Until, it becomes second nature. Until, you’re not afraid of veggies and a salad isn’t just a side dish anymore.